Part and parcel of mental toughness, Graham Jones argues in Thrive on Pressure, is self-belief—belief in your abilities and in your fortitude in the face of difficulties. Self-belief has two components: self-esteem and self-confidence. Jones describes these two components in a somewhat idiosyncratic way. Self-esteem, he writes, “is a way of thinking and feeling that implies you accept, respect, and trust yourself. It is developed over time and is unlikely to change much in the short term. It is largely unaffected by the external environment and therefore within your control.” By contrast, “self-confidence reflects your optimism about being successful in specific situations and circumstances. This is the part of your belief that is at the mercy of the changing environment. … it can therefore fluctuate significantly over a very short time period.” (p. 120)
Building self-esteem can be a slog; “it is enhanced gradually via continual reinforcement of your self-worth.” This process involves both letting go and laying claim. You should let go of perfectionist tendencies and stop taking things personally. You should give yourself credit for your successes and remind yourself of your achievements. (p. 136)
Since self-confidence operates in a shorter time horizon, it is important to focus on your recent successes and short-term goals. You want quick wins, however small they may be. These wins will “allow you to build up a store of recent successes that you may wish to record on a small card and carry around with you for use when you need a confidence boost.” (p. 139) You can supplement this focus on accomplishments with other strategies for boosting your self-confidence such as mental rehearsal and positive self-talk.
(to be continued)